The “Impression” of Speed

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Why bother with fast cars when you can’t even show them being driven fast?

BMW recently had to pull an ad off the air – this was in the UK – because a single person called in a complaint to Britain’s Advertising Standards Authority, which then banned the ad because it “condoned faster, dangerous and irresponsible driving.”

This is the offending ad:

Do you see “faster, dangerous and irrresponsible driving”?    

The ASA did. How it did remains mysterious. It claimed that “the succession of short, fast-paced scenes gave the impression that the cars were being driven at considerable speed.

Italics added.

Decrypted, this means that while the cars may not have actually been driving “at considerable speed” – whatever that means –  the ad gave the “impression” they were. In other words, the ad was banned for making the cars look fast.

But if we can’t have that, then how can we possible have anything that doesn’t look like a Yugo? (Which, for the record, was also advertised in ways that appeared to “condone” naughty driving.)

And if it’s bad to “give the impression” of speed in a commercial, then doesn’t the same principle apply in the flesh, so to speak? Why is the possession of cars that look fast even when they’re standing still allowed? What thoughts enter people’s heads when they see a Porsche in someone’s garage? At a dealership?

What, exactly, are they selling?

Why is it permitted to buy or own such cars? You are “condoning faster, dangerous and irresponsible driving” – even if the car isn’t actually being driven at all. Because the impression is being given.

It is inevitable that the argument will be made.

Not just over there, either.

Britain has often served as a kind of proving grounds for this sort of thing. Related examples include the use of automated speed cameras, which were Beta Tested there before being brought over here.

And over here, heavy trucks are already electronically gimped to prevent them from going any “faster” than the posted speed limit – in the interests, of course, of saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafety. Even though this electronic gimping of heavy trucks has made it almost impossible for them to execute a safe pass of a slower-moving truck. The result being highways needlessly glutted by trucks that take 10 minutes to creep past one another at 67 vs. 65 MPH.

It is, frankly, amazing that “fast” cars haven’t been similarly gimped since it surely “condones” driving “faster” to allow people to own and drive cars which are capable of being driven much “faster.”

BMW at least defended itself – although tepidly.

A company spokesman responded to the ASA’s twaddle about the cars featured in the ad – which were models equipped with the company’s xDrive all-wheel-drive system – supposedly “skidding” (which they didn’t) by pointing out that a “skid” by definition is the loss of directional control and the whole mother-loving point of the ad was to showcase the capabilities of the xDrive system to prevent skids, thereby assuring the vehicle remains under the driver’s control.

“The ad did not show the car skidding,” BMW asserted – correctly. Rather, it showed – briefly, for just a second, one of the wheels slipping, which is not the same thing as a skid. It then showed then xDrive system transferring power to the wheels which were not slipping – and by dint of that, the car avoiding a skid. In other words, the ad showed how much safer BMW’s xDrive-equipped cars are.

This cut no ice with the geeks at the ASA, who lectured BMW “not to demonstrate handling characteristics in the context of ‘excitement’ in future adverts.”

Italics added, again.

Now it’s “handling” that’s a no-go, though how the ASA or anyone can argue intelligently that a vehicle which handles adroitly is somehow – according to their reasoning – implicitly “dangerous” and “irresponsible.” Isn’t it desirable to promote vehicles which handle adroitly and which, accordingly, are less likely to suffer loss of control and go into a  . . . skid?

But, we miss the point.

Which is that anything which smacks of “excitement” must be stomped, less it give people any ideas. They are to be conditioned to cow-like plodding compliance, superficially sold as a matter of saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaafety but in fact a purposeful effort to squeeze any joy – any sense of control – out of driving.To render driving as boring as riding an elevator.  In order to make people less interested in driving. In order to get them to stop driving.

That’s what this and things of a piece are really all about.

BMW – and every other outfit that’s in the business of making cars that aren’t Yugos – had better clue in and wise up. If they don’t push back – hard – we’ll see the ASA’s reasoning applied to other ads which “condone” driving at “faster” than the pace of a Yugo. Then it’ll be “faster” cars themselves – even cars that merely look fast – and for the same reasons.

And it won’t be just over there, either.

. . .

Got a question about cars – or anything else? Click on the “ask Eric” link and send ’em in!

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  1. When the first Yugo was finished being built, one engineer looked at the other and said, “Well, it’s done. Take it for a test drive.” The guy responded, “I don’t want to drive it! You go!” That is how the car got its name.

    • Old Jay Leno monologue joke: A Yugo hit a bicyclist yesterday on Sunset Boulevard. But don’t worry–the Yugo driver is all right.

  2. What a got-damned shame.

    There was a time, not too long ago, when England produced, by blokes in the North, the fastest car, the fastest motorcycle, the fastest steam locomotive and the fastest commercial plane.

    What the fuck happened, outside of Cloverific collectivism?

    • Hi AF,

      It is tragic, isn’t it?

      The governments of several European nations have criminalized speech they deem “offensive” or “hateful” or whatever the catch-all happens to be.

      I wonder how Nasir stands it…

    • Yankee ingenuity, and, a Free Market Economy which allowed such ingenuity to be employed. Why do you think the Japanese started beating us at that very same game by the mid 1960s? At that point our ingenuity and free-market were beginning to be strangled by Unckle Carbunckle. That’s why it’s called government

  3. The UK is a cesspool of tyranny. Their “subjects” are pre-conditioned to a boot licking level of submission that is repugnant, even to our typical American sheep.

    Just watch their degrading adoration at the little wedding this weekend.

    Perhaps it’s good that Britain keeps taking mind control to the “atrocity” level. They can’t help pushing things way beyond the Blowback point. Maybe something good will come of this. History could repeat.

  4. Ah Song 2, we thought you were gone from the culture. It would have been nice to see a Matrix bullet-time animation shot too.

    Here I thought this was going to be an post about 1970s era British sports cars. Lots of fun to drive, plenty of effort keeping the engine from lugging and over-revving. But then the illusion bursts as you see someone in an LTD take the corner just as fast as you while drinking their coffee and looking bored.

  5. Let’s see… BMW now owns Rolls-Royce name rights and Volkswagen owns Bentley. Maybe the Brits aren’t happy that their “expertise” is showing.

    Just about the last place I’d visit as a tourist – England.

    • Morning, Liberty!

      The UK seems to me to be a stifling place, based on what I’ve read about restrictions on speech and the cameras everywhere and that one can be criminally charged for defending oneself against an attack, even in one’s own home.

      It sounds like Clover central to me…

  6. We should make “speed” videos for those poor British motorists. Would they make youtube take down the videos?

  7. Typical of everything in the UK these days….. try to wuss-afy everything…. Feels worst when they do it to cars and driving, especially when this country is brilliant to drive with the beautiful narrow bendy country roads and un-spoilt countryside… Watch some of the British you tubers review cars – its excruciatingly painful…. its like watching a washing machine be reviewed. Even more depressing are the car ads…
    The only ones who were outside the ordinary were Clarkson and his crew, and after over a decade of record complaints to whoever PC overlord regulates the press, they were finally gotten rid of….

    Glad to see that there are some here in this corner the net who get it…..

  8. Great article Eric:

    I had a question about this:

    “The result being highways needlessly glutted by trucks that take 10 minutes to creep past one another at 67 vs. 65 MPH.”

    I’ve noticed that phenomenon here in the good ole USA as well. But it’s really more like 65.00001 mph vs 65.00000 mph, with a 3/4 truck long “back and forth” to decide who is going to win the pass for 15 freaking miles.

    I think we have a resident big rig driver (eightsouthman) here in the comments. Perhaps he can comment.

    I’ve always wondered if the “10 minute pass” was being done at “wide open throttle”, or more appropriately “maximum injector PWM” (Since they are diesels with no actual throttle valve).

    So – are these truckers just trying to save fuel by executing these excruciatingly long passes, or are they really giving it everything they’ve got?

    If they are just trying to save fuel- they should stay the hell out of the passing lane.

    • Not a trucker, but I’ve experienced what you describe on certain highways where I live, and recall read comments by a trucker’s wife online saying that DOT regulates some trucking companies by fitting them with electronic governors that limit top speed and maximum power output, so please don’t attack truckers like her husband.

      Also, DOT apparently sets different limits for different trucking companies, based on their past regulatory infractions.

      I still think it’s damn annoying and that they should stay out of the passing lane.

      • Hi Plays.

        Noting but respect for truckers.

        Unlike police and firefighters, they actually DO have one of the top ten most dangerous jobs in the US.

        Hopefully, eightsouthman can chime in. If DOT forcefully hobbles some trucking companies with speed governors, it should also ban said trucking companies from any and all left lane usage.

        I have literally seen a truck passing another truck take over 15 miles..

        • Amen, Blake –

          I also admire/respect truckers. It’s a vital – and tough – job. And I have tremendous sympathy for the way they’ve been subjected to Big Brother measures the rest of us have yet to experience but no doubt soon will.

        • Truckers are generally very rude in my area. Cutting off people, the forever passes, tailgating, shoulder passing, being in lanes they aren’t permitted and thus clogging up traffic, and more. Oh and yeah speeding down a bit of open space into a traffic jam.

          • Hi Brent:

            Are you anywhere around I-94 near Chicago/West Indiana? I’m from Detroit (well Farmington Hills, but nobody has ever heard of that).

            When I drive to Chicago going to my brother’s house, the trucks are not just rude, but dangerous, and everywhere.

  9. Since all men are sexual predators that need to be turned into eunuchs, why are ads that make men, or women for that matter, attractive allowed? Isn’t that encouraging sexual exploitation of women?

    Our descendants, if any, will look back on this period of history and wonder how society could exist with such self-defeating concepts being considered The Good.

  10. One has to wonder how the Orwellian pricks came to have the power to control free speech, in advertising or otherwise. Oh yeah, allowing them to take your guns, for starters. When a gang of thugs in silk suits and ties has a monopoly on violence, I suppose they can pretty much do whatever they want. Ironic when “subjects” oppose being “subjugated” by their own paid civil servants isn’t it? It would be even humorous to us here in the U.S., if it were not for that fact that we allowing the same happen here, and we don’t “kneel” to anyone, or do we?


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